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Stravinsky & Balanchine

Stravinsky- Jeu de cartes & Agon & Orpheus

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov

Hyperion CDA 67698 [73 mins]



Stravinsky - Apollon Musag├Ęte & Pulcinella Suite

Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Alexander Janiczek

Linn CKD330 [54 mins]



Two more CDs of Stravinsky/Balanchine ballet music. The Hyperion selection is the more useful, with three important scores, whereas Linn's has the Suite (only) of Pulcinella; I greatly prefer the full ballet, with vocalists, and at 54 minutes Linn offers short measure, even with their SACD etc potential, which most of us don't have facilities to enjoy...

Volkov gives reliable accounts and is well recorded in Glasgow's City Halls, and it has been great to hear again, and together, these fine scores which are not given that often.
The Linn recording is a bit too "upholstered" to my taste.

But I take this opportunity to deplore the quite bizarre lack on DVD of the great Balanchine ballets of mainly neo-classic Stravinsky. Their association was one of the most fruitful of all artistic relationships. "Beginning with their initial meeting in 1926, a binding covenant quickly developed, a union that would connect them personally and professionally for the rest of their lives. In Balanchine's eyes, Stravinsky was a colossus, the "Orpheus of the twentieth century". Even as a young ballet student Georgi Balanchivadze was immediately drawn to Stravinsky's vibrant music. By the time of his death in 1983, he had choreographed many of the composer's most important works" [New York Times].

See Rubies [R] on Opus Arte DVD OA 0951 and Stravinsky's Capriccio takes on quite a different dimension.

Exploring our frustrations, we have discovered and bought two valuable DVDs about George Balanchine, both including excerpts from videos of performances, quantities of which must lie in archives somewhere?

Balanchine [American Masters DVD D2448] is a fairly conventional biographical documentary chiefly valuable for the archive clips.

But Dancing for Mr B - Six Balanchine Ballerinas [Kultur Films SKU D4407, 1989] is one of the greatest of all TV arts films; these highly articulate former ballerinas are mostly still teaching, and their individual personalities come across vividly in their narrations about "a feast of excerpts of Balanchine ballets."

Peter Grahame Woolf